Tuesday, 24 January 2012
There is something about history that either turns people off or turns people on. I have to say that it intrigues me. Not the big stuff but the little things about how people lived, their relationships and the influences upon them. It makes me wonder how much of what I am is because of when and where I was born.
But like it or not some of us have to take account of history because we own historical buildings. As ever I think that if you have something then you have to make it work for you. History works for us because it brings people into our building. We participate in Heritage Open Days and we have a link with a very popular local historian who has done talks in our building. We are currently working on a service about the Titanic.
There are local connections, Captain Smith was born in Stoke-on-Trent which is down the road and Thomas Andrews, the designer who went down with the ship, and many of the directors of Harland and Wolff who built the ship, were Unitarians/Non-Subscribers. Some of us will find this intrinsically interesting but others may just see it as an opportunity to get some media coverage and to potentially have new people visit our building.
I think that history has lessons to teach us. One of the problems with the Titanic was its size - this was celebrated as a wonderful feat of engineering but captains and their crews were not used to steering such large boats. Captain Smith had already had one accident in a previous boat that he had captained - but apparently this was not unusual. So does innovation always come with increased risk? I suspect that it does.
The other thing that strikes me about the Titanic disaster was the way that the lives of those with money were thought to be more valuable than those without. I hope that things have changed and that this is less so these days. It has not completely disappeared and I expect that we can all think of cases where this is not true. But this is one of the things that history usually does, it makes me feel gratitude. Grateful that I was born at a time and in a place of plenty and comfort.
I suppose then we have to ask the question,'If I have so much, what must I give in return to those less fortunate?' From those that have to those who do not. Which brings me round nicely to another debate that we are having about our charitable giving. But that is food for another blog post.